[Editor's note: 463er Katie Hallen reports from Denver. Katie, if it was me in Denver and not (463 partner) Jim Hock, I would have done everything to hook you up with a convention floor pass and tickets to the RIAA/One Campaign party with Kayne. I'm sorry that Jim is so selfish....]
From the Google and Digg hosted blogger tent (above) to Barack Obama’s text messages and Twitter feeds, tech took center stage at this week’s Democratic National Convention in Denver. Tech events and parties were among the hottest tickets in town. A few highlights from the Mile-High City:
Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter hosted an all-star clean tech lunch at the governor’s mansion for members of TechNet, the bipartisan group of CEOs and senior execs focused on advancing the innovation economy. Kleiner Perkins’s John Gage, Facebook’s Chris Kelly, Google.org’s Dan Reicher, Project Better Place’s Michael Granoff, Tesla Motors’ Diarmuid O’Connell and other tech influencers gathered in one of only three governor’s mansions with rooftop solar panels. Forbes.com’s Brian Wingfield recaps the event.
The Consumer Electronics Association released a national poll that showed 62 percent of Democrats say they benefit from free trade. Later that day, CEA held a press conference outside its “America Wins with Trade” bus with Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) (below) to call on Congress to pass stalled trade agreements and recognize trade’s positive force in creating jobs. BusinessWeek’s Catherine Holahan has the story here and here's her video report...
While 463 partner Jim Hock scored floor credentials and headed to the Pepsi Center, I settled for stopovers at some of the numerous parties in the clubs, restaurants, museums and streets of downtown Denver. Joe Pantoliano (The Soprano’s Ralph Cifaretto) and billionaire Ted Turner turned out for the kick-off party at the Denver Art Museum. John Legend performed at the Democratic Leadership Council’s party at Beta Nightclub. The mayors of Denver and St. Paul were spotted walking together to the Best Buy party at Lucky Strike.
The Technology Reception at Rioja Restaurant, hosted by TechNet and co-sponsored by 463, drew a huge crowd of tech-policy followers with an unverified visit by filmmaker Laurie David.
CEA and TechNet are 463 clients.
The company also has set up Google and YouTube booths within the Pepsi Center -- but its involvement doesn't stop there.
In tony LoDo, the Lower Downtown district of Denver stacked with upscale eateries, hotels and shops, Google is co-sponsoring the "Big Tent," a two-story structure that is a gathering place for bloggers and sessions on topics ranging from climate change to evangelical politics.
And the company leaves its calling card Thursday, when Google CEO Eric Schmidt speaks at the tent -- while throwing a shindig that evening with Vanity Fair at the Exdo Event Center near downtown, where invited guests can watch Obama's acceptance speech in style. The facility features what it calls a "New York loft style atmosphere."
Speaking of Tech Daily, the enterprising Andrew Noyes is taking it for the team and reporting on the tech policy happenings and gabfests FROM DC (contrary to prior reports and claimed sightings). David Hatch of NJ's Convention Daily is on the ground in Denver.
If a certain Democratic presidential candidate gets elected, Blair Levin should be at the top of the list for FCC chair. Deservedly.
According to a Telephony article, Levin (who was called "the sixth commissioner" by some when he was chief of staff to former FCC chief Reed Hundt) recently made the call that the current state of broadband competition is about as good as it's going to get for the foreseeable future...
“Prospects for the long-heralded ‘third pipe’ appear dim and dimming... In terms of wireless and broadband buildouts, there’s unlikely to be another new national buildout, other than Clearwire, in the foreseeable future... The market is as competitive as it is ever going to be, as far as we can see. And it could become less competitive.”
Telephony and Levin continue...
At the same time, Levin said 4G wireless rollouts in 2010 or 2012 could represent a significant change in the competitive landscape. “That is a far more significant competitive threat than I think people realize,” he said, adding that, for wireline providers feeling the sting of wireless substitution, “The worst, in wireless, is yet to come.”
Mitch Kapor is a smart guy who gets both the business side of tech and the policy world. He founded Lotus way back in 1982 and cofounded EFF in 1990. More recently, he became one of Senator Obama's (several) tech advisors who helped the campaign devise its tech policy policy positions.
The current MIT Tech Review has an interview with Kapor where he expounds on his call for a National CTO...
TR: Why does the country need a CTO?
Kapor: The underlying premise is that tech is inextricably intertwined with virtually everything. You can't talk about homeland security or education or energy without it being in large part a conversation about technology. The president will be well served if policy making is done in a more technologically sophisticated way.... The advantage of a CTO is that there can be coördination. There's a ton of work that goes on within different agencies: there needs to be someone to identify the best ways of doing things and some common practices.
When the Obama tech policy plan was announced, I wrote:
A month or so ago the question of whether the next president should have a CTO came up in a work conversation among a diverse group of tech policy folks. We all agreed that the title is nice, but you would need to establish and delineate real power for it. Of course, the best way to do this would be to create a cabinet position for technology and innovation. People rolled their eyes at this until it was reminded to them that we do have a Secretary of Agriculture. What industry is more important to the next 100 years of the United States?
Of course, historically, the adding of a new cabinet position generally comes in a time of war or heightened crisis. Not during slow boiling worries over competitiveness.
So the most telling tech policy appointment by the next president will be Secretary of Commerce (yes, more so than FCC chair). The president will have a host of business leaders from multiple sectors to chose from. Will he pick one who eats, sleeps and breaths technology driven innovation? Or one more comfortable with the oil or food industries (for example)? This Secretary will have the authority to provide a true bully pulpit amidst an administration.
A national CTO would be a nice to have. A savvy Commerce Secretary is a need to have.
Update: Scoble has jumped into this convo with a discussion on who the CTO should be.
Former (current?) Hillary Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson has a new blog.
He is using it as an unabashed platform for promoting his music likes. (As opposed to the more abashed me).
I'm Morrissey sad. Muxtape looks like this today...
What's Muxtape? I wrote about the music service that mimics creating a mix tape back in April when it launched. At the time, I noted: "just as soon as I got excited about it, I thought that anything as fun/cool as this must be illegal."
The folks at Muxtape are saying that they will be back and that no artists or labels have complained. But, for a music industry that is speaking out of one side of its mouth about how they "get it" now and have learned their lesson (over and over), it doesn't look great.*
Neither does the slow train wreck that is Pandora and the rest of the Web radio licensing mess that stopped making sense a long time ago. Yesterday, The Post wrote about how one of the most popular music discovery services (that happens to stream tracks) is on the road to ruin).
This is exactly what the RIAA wants, by the way. Even if services like Pandora introduce people to tons of music (personally, I've bought a ton of music I found on Pandora), much of that music is not from an RIAA-member label. The RIAA knew exactly what it was doing in pushing these higher rates: it was killing off alternative routes to promoting non-RIAA music. The RIAA labels have always thrived off a very limited distribution and promotion channel. After all, distribution and promotion are where record labels really make their money. Competing methods of distribution and promotion are threats to be killed off -- and the RIAA may have succeeded here (with Congress' and the courts' help, of course).
*If this is a publicity ploy by Muxtape after the initial shiny wore off on them, they are geniuses.
Update: Use your whack-a-mole analogy here: 8Tracks does the same thing as Muxtape as is living and breathing at the moment.
[Editor's note: For the first time in five (?) years, I am not in lovely Aspen for the Progress and Freedom Foundation tech policy fest. As much I will miss the dichotomy of blue blazers and hiking boots, the Sky hotel jacuzzi, hot dogs at 2 am, and mile-(plus)-high hangovers, I am happy that 463er Dave McGuire is in effect this year. He even wrote a little ditty for this space today.... And we can expect more....]
If I told you I spent my morning in a basement conference room, packed with policy wonks, listening to a quartet of lawyers bickering about a subsection of a decade-old law, you might pity me.
Thankfully, the basement is in beautiful Aspen Colorado, the lawyers are nationally recognized experts, and that boring legal subsection? It may just have paved the way for Web 2.0.
I'm here in Aspen for the Progress and Freedom Foundation's annual Aspen Summit, a fine excuse for a gaggle of bright people to descend on an off-season ski town to mull over the future of Internet policy.
The first panel this morning dealt with mounting attempts to force Internet companies, such as ISPs, social networks and Web site operators, to crack down on the content created by their customers.
As it stands, Internet companies are largely protected from liability for the content their customers create under Communications Decency Act (CDA) -- specifically Section 230. Although the Supreme Court rightfully struck down much of the CDA on First Amendment grounds, Section 230 survived, and arguably paved the way for the Internet we see today.
Without 230, it's difficult to imagine how applications like Facebook or YouTube would have ever been created. If the Facebook could be held legally responsible every time one of its millions of users said something potentially defamatory, or Google could be sued within an inch of its life every time a YouTube user violated copyright law, it'd be hard to justify maintaining either of those services...or developing them in the first place.
Unfortunately, some lawmakers, content owners, and others are increasingly pushing to "deputize" Internet companies, forcing them to play an active roll in policing the content they host. It's a troubling trend, and one that threatens to undermine the user-generated revolution that Web 2.0 has wrought.
Most of the lawyers on the panel seemed to agree (though being lawyers, the managed to argue about it for an hour) that Section 230 would survive efforts to undermine its core protections, but probably not without their, and our efforts in its defense.
I've avoided tag-your-it Internet memes successfully to date. But, now that fellow tech policy blogger Adam Thierer has taken the bait and thrown down his favorite album for each year of his life, I'm in. Mine...
1968: White Album, The Beatles
1969: Led Zepplin II, Led Zepplin
1970: Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon & Garfunkel
1971: L.A. Woman, The Doors
1972: Exile On Main St., Rolling Stones
1973: Houses of the Holy, Led Zepplin
1974: I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, Richard & Linda Thompson
1975: Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen
1976: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Tom Petty and the Heartbeakers
1977: Kraftwerk, Trans-Europe Express
1978: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, Devo
1979: Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division
1980: Boys Don't Cry, The Cure
1981: Hard Promises, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
1982: Rio, Duran Duran
1983: War, U2
1984: Repo Man Soundrack
1985: Meat is Murder, The Smiths
1986: Especially for You, The Smithereens
1987: Appetite for Destruction, Guns & Roses
1988: Straight Out of Compton, NWA
1989: Freedom, Neil Young
1990: Ritual de lo Habitual, Jane's Addiction
1991: Seamonsters, The Wedding Present
1992: Slanted and Enchanted, Pavement
1993: The Infotainment Scam, The Fall
1994: San Francisco, American Music Club
1995: Elastica, Elastica
1996: What Would the Community Think, Cat Power
1997: Dig Me Out, Sleater-Kinney
1998: Music Has the Right to Children, Boards of Canada
1999: Come On Die Young, Mogwai
2000: Long Distance, Ivy
2001: First Album, Miss Kittin and the Hacker
2002: Kill the Moonlight, Spoon
2003: Closer, Plastikman
2004: The Grey Album, Jay-Z and Danger Mouse
2005: Thrills, Ellen Alien
2006: Silent Shout, The Knife
2007: Sound of Silver, LCD Soundsystem
What if Barack Obama is sprung into office partially through the power of Internet donations to his campaign and his ability to inspire a new generation of voters to vote via social networking tools? Yet, he comes into office bitter about the lies bandied about on the Web in chain mails about his religious background and patriotic beliefs -- so bitter that he decides to push for regulation of Web-based opinions and news?
There, the relatively new government was greatly assisted by the country's Web savvy voters when it won it's election five months ago. But, those unintended consequences of the Internet came back to bite the government on its flank when it was the delivery mechanism for hysterical fears of rampant Mad Cow disease after the government began to accept American beef back into the country. This then manifested itself in massive street protests (see below) against the government that have its popularity to Bushian-levels.
Now comes the attempt to put the genie back in the bottle....
...the newly elected South Korean conservative government, led by Lee Myung-bak, has unveiled a package of reforms and laws aimed at curbing some of what it claims is the outrageously libellous commentary and ungrounded scaremongering found online.
Lee Han-ki, the OhmyNews editor-in-chief, told MediaGuardian.co.uk: "The proposed legislation will not only hinder free speech by Korean netizens but seems to be aimed at controlling the public opinion of internet news media.
"Such measures would not help to promote the democratic development of the Korean press and could end up turning back the internet clock in Korea."
Should Lee's new Seoul government get its way, new laws would allow any internet company publishing news stories to be regulated in the same way as journalistic organisations.
All forum and chatroom users will be required to make verifiable real-name registrations.
Internet companies will have to make public their search algorithm to improve "transparency". And, most controversial of all, regulatory body the Korea Communications Commission will be given powers to immediately suspend the publishing of articles found to be fraudulent or slanderous for a minimum of 30 days. (Guardian UK)